UIBL expands world baseball footprint with investment in BSB Sports

UIBL expands world baseball footprint with investment in BSB Sports
The United International Baseball League is the first-ever professional baseball league created to serve India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. (screen grab)
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Updated 03 August 2022

UIBL expands world baseball footprint with investment in BSB Sports

UIBL expands world baseball footprint with investment in BSB Sports
  • Kash Shaikh, founder, CEO of BSB Sports to join league ownership group as president, marketing chief

DUBAI: The United International Baseball League, the first-ever professional baseball league created to serve India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, on Wednesday expanded its sports marketing and brand sponsorship infrastructure by purchasing a stake in BSB Sports.

Founded by veteran entrepreneur, brand builder, and agent, Kash Shaikh, BSB Sports is one of the fastest-growing sports marketing firms in the US, with athlete relationships spanning baseball, basketball, football, mixed martial arts, and collegiate athletics.

The strategic investment involves Shaikh, who has built two agencies over the last five years – BSB Sports and BSB Group International – joining the UIBL ownership group as its president and chief marketing officer, splitting his time between Cincinnati, New York, and Dubai.

League founder, chairman, and chief executive officer, Kanwal Sra, said: “I’m very grateful to be able to bring someone of Kash’s stature, experience, and values on board. From the moment we met, I could feel his passion and sense his drive.

“Kash has a truly unique skill set, including his sports marketing background, international experience, and leadership roles on both the client and agency side, as well as within startup and entrepreneurial companies.

“But, most importantly, his deep belief in our vision made him the ideal person to help lead our league.”

Shaikh will remain as chairman at BSB Group International, focusing his work on the firm’s largest and most long-term clients. BSB Group International will also serve as the US-based agency of record for the UIBL. Shaikh will also continue to serve as CEO of BSB Sports, with its baseball infrastructure, relationships, and intellectual property shifting under the UIBL.

BSB Sports will retain its own branding and streamline its focus to college athletics, continuing to leverage the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s new name, image, and likeness policy to connect athletes with brands. BSB Sports represents more than 300 college athletes across nearly two-dozen states.

Shaikh said: “This is a dream job, led by inspiring leaders. Beginning with Kanwal, the visionary behind this work, the team of builders that have joined forces to do something special is really incredible.

“For me personally, the UIBL brings together so many of my passions, including entrepreneurship, sports, and international business.

“We have an opportunity to build a sports league from the ground up in a part of the world that’s very meaningful to me. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing of value ever is. I believe our team is ready for the challenge. I’m so grateful to Kanwal, Barry Larkin (American former baseball player), and the team for trusting me with this opportunity,” he added.

Shaikh was initially connected to Sra via Larkin, who began working with the UIBL due to his decades-long experience in international player development. Shaikh has represented Larkin as his business and brand-building agent for the last two years and will continue to do so in his new role.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Sra said that the investment was a mix of both cash and stock. UIBL players will now have access to industry leading marketing representation as they begin to build their brands and expand their followings in a completely untapped market.

Shaikh said: “We’re excited to introduce our athletes to an entirely new fanbase. India, Pakistan, and the Middle East are home to more than 2 billion people, and 1 billion of them are cricket fans – another bat and ball sport.

“With the UIBL, we have an opportunity to not only help these fans fall in love with America’s pastime, but we have a chance to help baseball players become stars in a region that loves their heroes.”


Kingdom targets Riyadh 2034 Asian Games for athletic performance

Kingdom targets Riyadh 2034 Asian Games for athletic performance
Updated 10 August 2022

Kingdom targets Riyadh 2034 Asian Games for athletic performance

Kingdom targets Riyadh 2034 Asian Games for athletic performance
  • New Saudi Olympic Training Center CEO Matt Favier reveals the plan at Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey

The Kingdom will bid to ensure athletes are prepared for top performances at the Riyadh 2034 Asian Games, according to the newly appointed chief of the Saudi Olympic Training Center.

Matt Favier, CEO of the SOTC, was speaking at the ongoing Islamic Solidarity Games taking place in Turkey. He also praised the organizers of the Konya event.

Matt Favier, the newly appointed CEO at the Saudi Olympic Training Center (SOTC). 

Favier, an Australian high-performance sports specialist, is part of the Saudi Arabian delegation participating in the 5th Islamic Solidarity Games involving 54 countries, which launched officially on Tuesday and will run until Aug. 18.

“The impact of Konya 2022 is huge, and it is always a great opportunity to allow the elite athlete to participate in such mega championships as this one,” he said.

“We are not in a hurry, we have time, and we care about the quality of developments, and one of the best ways to help our athletes grow is through meeting and competing against international athletes from around the world.”

Regarding the training center’s role, Favier said: “We have around 200 elite athletes representing 17 sports, and we aim to provide a complete environment that helps the athlete focus on practicing sports and reaching their goals.”

According to Favier, the training center’s elite program is an example of the implementation of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. It shows the ambitions of the sports sector and the strong support received by athletes, clubs and federations from the Kingdom’s government and the Quality-of-Life Program, he added.

Favier is an administrator with over 25 years of experience across various sports. He recently acted as CEO of Hockey Australia, where he developed a national league.


Saudi athletes win silver in 100m and pole vault at Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi athletes win silver in 100m and pole vault at Islamic Solidarity Games
Updated 10 August 2022

Saudi athletes win silver in 100m and pole vault at Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi athletes win silver in 100m and pole vault at Islamic Solidarity Games
  • Abdullah Abkar and Hussain Al-Hizam were the Kingdom’s big winners on Tuesday

Saudi sprinter Abdullah Abkar on Tuesday won a silver medal in the 100 meters at the 5th Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya, Turkey.

Abkar finished second in the final with a time of 9.95 seconds, improving on his semifinal time of 9.96, which was the first time a Saudi had run a sub-10 second race at the Islamic Solidarity Games.

The podium finish is the fourth by a Saudi athlete in the men’s 100 meters in this competition, after Salem Al-Yami’s gold in 2005, and bronze for Jamal Al-Saffar and Fahad Al-Subaie in 2005 and 2013 respectively.

Hussain Al-Hizam claimed Saudi’s second medal of the day by grabbing silver in the pole vault competition with a height of 5.40 meters.

The mark is 15 centimeters below the height Al-Hizam managed when winning gold at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku.


Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games
Updated 10 August 2022

Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games

Saudi delegation joins Turkey’s Erdogan to launch 5th Islamic Solidarity Games
  • Official opening ceremony in Konya welcomes athletes from 54 countries

KONYA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday night officially opened the 2022 Islamic Solidarity Games in the presence of the President of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal.

The fifth edition of games will take place in Konya, Turkey, until Aug. 18.

The ceremony at Konya Metropolitan Municipality Stadium welcomed athletes from 54 countries in the presence of several Olympic federation leaders, including the head of the Saudi delegation and Vice President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee (SOPC) Prince Fahd bin Jalawi.

Prince Abdulaziz, also SOPC president, said in his opening statement: “We meet today on a new date under one banner, permanent brotherhood and a great goal, for there is nothing more beautiful than peace and higher than Islam — Islam which, since its inception encouraged swimming, archery and horse riding, preceding humanity in promoting sports.”

He expressed his delight at the launch of the fifth Islamic Solidarity Games, in which more than 4,000 male and female athletes will compete.

Prince Abdulaziz thanked Erdogan, the government and the people of Turkey for hosting the event, adding: “You have all been nothing but supportive.

“The federation grants the new edition a certificate of success from its first moments.”


Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023

Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023
Updated 10 August 2022

Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023

Manchester City’s youth Abu Dhabi Cup returns in 2023
  • Competition open to young male and female players from Feb. 18-19 at Zayed Sports City Stadium

ABU DHABI: The Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup will return to the UAE capital in February 2023, for the first time since 2019, the organizers have announced.

The youth tournament caters for players of all abilities, with the aim of developing footballers in the region.

Launched in 2017, the youth tournament has over the years attracted international interest with the participation of 13 countries from four continents, over 1,750 players (including Manchester City academy footballers from the UK) and 4,000 spectators.

In 2018, the organizers also launched a new girls’ category, which will return for the upcoming 2023 edition.

The tournament will be held over the weekend of Feb. 18 and 19 at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the largest multi-purpose venue in the UAE. Off the pitch and away from the action, families will be able to enjoy live entertainment and fun activities in the ‘City Village.’

Aref Hamad Al-Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Abu Dhabi Sports Council is delighted to once again support the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup. Football tournaments in the capital city are essential to ensure the growth, further development and improvement of the football landscape in the UAE. We are very excited to see the Cup competition return in 2023 and are looking forward to welcoming teams from the region competing alongside youth Abu Dhabi football clubs.”

The age categories for the 2023 tournament will be under-8, under-10, under-12 and under-14 boys, and two categories for under-11 and under-14 girls.

Simon Hewitt, senior manager, Football Operations MENA - Football Education, said: “We can’t wait to see so many young footballers playing with a smile on their faces and having fun at the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup in February 2023. The tournament returns and promises to be a fantastic experience for all involved, from players to families and the coaches.”

“The tournament caters for all levels of abilities with day two ending in a selection of finals for the City Cup, City Plate, City Trophy and City Shield all up for grabs, with one lucky team winning an all-expenses paid trip to the City Football Academy in Manchester.”

Meanwhile Saleh Mohamed Saleh Al-Geziry, director general for tourism at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, said: “Inspiring the next generation of sports stars and sharing Abu Dhabi with the world are among the key goals of DCT Abu Dhabi, so we’re thrilled to support the Manchester City Abu Dhabi Cup and showcase our world-class sporting infrastructure and partnerships.”


Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
Updated 10 August 2022

Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022

Runners have new short races before Abu Dhabi Marathon 2022
  • Yas Island and Al-Ain stadium to host 1km to 21.1km events
  • Aim to hone fitness of elite and amateur racers, say organizers

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company have announced an all-new Race Series Edition of short distances that will allow elite and amateur runners to hone their fitness ahead of the fourth edition of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon on Dec. 17 this year.

The series is open to people of all ages and will feature three organized runs. The first is scheduled to take place on Sept. 3 over 5 kilometers inside Yas Mall Abu Dhabi, and over 1 kilometer and 3 kilometers. The second event will take place on Oct. 8 at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain, and offer an outdoor race of 10 kilometers as well as options of 3 kilometers and 5 kilometers.

The third run of the series is on Nov. 5, just over a month before the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon. It will provide participants the chance to race a 21.1-kilometer half-marathon on a new course on Yas Island, as well as options of 3 kilometers, 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers.

Aref Al-Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “The new series of community races represent a distinctive addition to the fourth ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon program and the agenda of our sporting activities in general.

“It further reveals our enduring commitment to encourage the practice of sports among members of society of all age groups and ensuring that it promotes our healthy and active lifestyle program to further improve the Quality of Life Index in Abu Dhabi.”

In keeping with the slogan “For the Community, By the Community,” the series demonstrates how the marathon is driving community engagement and promoting a healthy lifestyle for all UAE residents, he added.

Dr. Saif Sultan Al-Nasseri, director of the Human Capital Directorate at ADNOC, said: “The Race Series Edition provides a great opportunity for members of the public to train and practice their race strategies ahead of the ADNOC Abu Dhabi Marathon and we encourage everyone to take advantage.

“ADNOC is pleased to support this initiative and we will continue enabling the wellbeing of our community through our integrated health and sporting initiatives.”

Last year’s marathon attracted more than 12,000 participants of various ages, in addition to a sizeable group of elite international athletes. The 42.2-kilometer race was held alongside 10-kilometer, 5-kilometer, and 2.5-kilometer competitions.